In the years before it achieved independence from New Zealand in 1962, social conditions in Samoa could best be described as primitive. Education, health, housing, social security, sanitation and water supply, while a cause of concern to the colonial administration, left a lot to be desired in terms of their quality.
The first decade following independence was a testing time for the Samoan Government. Social services, particularly education, health and water supply, were at the top of the government’s agenda. External assistance in various forms was sought to complement whatever domestic resources were available to spearhead the campaign for the improvement of social services.
In recent years, Samoa has won the admiration and recognition of the international community for its economic and social achievements despite having to combat a series of crises in the 1990s, including the taro blight, Polynesian Airline’s financial problems and two cyclones. In fact, Samoa is widely known in the region as a "role model" for the Pacific. This is in addition to other accolades such as the "shining star" and "grand jewel" of the region. These are colourful labels and while some may demur, it is a fact that Samoa has made great progress in improving the quality of its social services since independence.
So what makes Samoa a success story? This book discusses in depth the fundamentals that have enabled the country to uplift the quality of its society since independence: the welfare state; social cohesion; participative democracy; and the rule of law. Of the four, the welfare state and social cohesion have proved to be the most significant building blocks for the country’s steady social progress, as well as its growing post-crisis resilience.
Despite making big strides in social development following independence and in recent years, Samoa currently faces strong challenges that could undermine past achievements, potentially creating a bleak outlook for further progress. Several critical social issues need urgent attention, such as poverty and crime, and there have been delays in addressing these social problems. They could pose a major threat to the country’s future social cohesion and development if they are not properly addressed.
For a list of other publications in this series or for more information on the projec
t, click here